Brrrring

Alex Sanchez (author of RAINBOW BOYS, RAINBOW HIGH, and SO HARD TO SAY) called tonight, and he’ll be at Texas Book Festival this fall. Amazing guy. Brought me a keychain from Graceland. Nobody else has ever brought me anything from Graceland. Also a great writer. Also, reading PLAYING IN TRAFFIC by Gail Giles.

Rituals

“The rituals of getting ready to write produce a kind of trance.” –John Barth

I will heretofore (and you thought I didn’t go to law school) shift blame for my staggering unproductivity (while waiting on my revision letter) to the trance.

But in any case, I am apparently getting ready to write. I spent most of the morning cleaning out my office. I always feel smarter when my office is clean, even though I only exhibit said smarts when picking my way through its messiness.

Actually, in fairness, I usually do original writing downstairs in the sunroom on my laptop in the middle of the night. It’s a ghostly place. I drink iced tea, curl up with one-to-four cats, and keep the lights off. Sometimes I’ll turn on music on TV, something to suit the mood of the piece. (My breakup with television did not extend to the all-music channels). Midnight to four a.m. for first drafts. Always.

That said, the upstairs daylight office is for revision and administrative whatever, so it’s still important. One major step was to clear out a series of research books for a novel that, after too much reflection, I’m deciding not to write. It’s been a backburner project for years, a frequent reader (I would say “fan,” but let’s be real) request. The whole process has been fairly empowering. Moving on already…

My office itself is cozy (read: too small). It was originally the maid’s room in the house (we don’t have a maid, unfortunately). Deep closet and a wash closet that serves the glamorous job of cat bathroom. Ceiling fan. One window overlooking the backyard and another overlooking the sideyard. The walls are green and adorned with wolves.

It’s also been a year since I gave up potatoes and changed my life for the better. Not that the potatoes were key, but they were simultaneous. Or rather, they were not simultaneous. I’m sure I’ll now get mail from the Potato Growers of America.

Maybe Half Full, Said The Optimist

“Writing does not exclude the full life. It demands it.” –Katherine Anne Porter

I’m not sure I’m living up to the demand for a full life. I try; I do. But today is on the bland side.

Various news and thoughts:

Harper is including me in a calendar of its authors. I’m Miss November, if you can believe that. I should point out that this is a bibliophile calendar and not a lover-of-sexy-girls calendar.

If you want to meet a real Miss November, there’s a rockin’ editor by that name. She has the best hair God ever gave to a woman. Really.

I had the honor of writing a recommendation letter for one of my WriteFesters to Vermont. Speaking of WF, also have had numerous inquiries about next year but already decided that alumni get first dibs. It’s only fair. They believed before the buzzy-ness.

Boot quest is going nowhere. I tried South Congress today. Some hopes for a used set in good shape–all red with something lizard at the toe for only $130–but no dice. Too small. Couple of really hot pairs at the actual Western wear shop, but everything I loved was at least $350 (up to $900). Who buys thousand dollar boots? Not Cyn.

This reminds me, Frances Hill (author of THE BUG CEMETERY, Holt 2002) told me recently that your feet keep growing or “spreading” for the rest of your life. Ever since then, I’ve had images of myself at 80, walking around in flippers. I think your nose and ears continue to grow, too. Hm. Probably time to start concentrating more on my personality.

“Freaks and Geeks” on DVD

Started watching the series “Freaks and Geeks,” which is fairly addictive. Great YA stuff; first three episodes. I’ve broken up with television in light of the cancellation of “Angel,” so my solution is to try quality that I somehow missed when it was aired. Anyway, it’s set in 1980, which preceeds my high school years, but still… There’s a nostalgia appeal. I recommend it.

Little of This, Little of That

Greg took me to lunch at Houston’s to celebrate my mail. Usually avoid chains, but something about the brick and fire reminds me of Chicago. Have begun working on a massive rennovation of my site; going for a more sophisticated, user-friendly design. Lisa had the most intriguing idea about definition through color. Have rediscovered the “Footloose” sound track. Contemplating the author’s note on my WIP. It’s either irrelevant or crucial. Possibly a decision best left to the editor. Got “Freaks & Geeks” via Netflix.

The first time I wrote something on my own with the idea of sending it out to the world in general was in fourth or fifth grade, a collection of very bad (sometimes rhyming, sometimes not) poems. I got a white participation ribbon at my school district’s fair. I’ve mentioned that in speeches and acknowledged that the participating was the important thing, but the truth is that the white ribbon made me feel lousy and I haven’t really written poetry since.

Lunch and Library-ness

I had the honor today of lunching with a fave YA librarian–one of the conference-going, planner types. I have no idea how these folks do so much. Definitely warriors for the cause. We talked a bit about how far Native American children’s/YAs are lagging behind books representing other groups in terms of reflecting modern life. Light-a-candle kind of talk, but still concerned. Problem is, our numbers are small, and there’s no quick fix for that. Only option is to cultivate up-and-comers and encourage friends from other communities to take an interest. We also talked about Julie Anne Peters latest, LUNA (Little Brown, 2004), which may be the first YA with a transgendered character. Still reading TOO BIG A STORM by Marsha Qualey (Dial, 2004). Thinking again about talking to Lisa Firkle about doing a major redesign on my site. Past time to take it to the next level, past time for a change.

First Reading

I started young as a writer. Really young, but don’t we all? When I was in first grade, I dictated a poem to my mother who wrote it down so I could give it to Mrs. Woodside, my teacher. It was about Christmas, my gift to my teacher. My mama probably still has a copy in a scrapbook somewhere. Mrs. Woodside–plump, gentle, nearing retirement, with an odd affection for owls–gave it to someone in the principal’s office to read to the whole school over the intercom.

Nobody told me first. I was embarassed and then elated that my gift had been so well received, so enthusiastically shared. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t signed away those audio rights. It didn’t matter that my copyright was ignored. I certainly didn’t have to worry about a cranky PW review.

The poem was simple and heartfelt and uncensored and celebrated. Probably my entire career has been spent looking for one day just as good.

Today’s highlights: lunch with Julie Lake, author of GALVESTON’S SUMMER OF THE STORM (www.julielake.com); dropped off donation copies of signed books for Texas Book Festival; dinner tonight with authors Dianna Hutts Aston (www.diannaaston.com; LOONY LITTLE) and author/illustrator Janie Bynum (www.janiebynum.com; ALTOONA BABOONA), who is apparently Austin-ish bound.

Reading TOO BIG A STORM by Marsha Qualey (Dial, May 2004), a story of a young girl in the 1960s fretting the fate of her older brother who’s gone missing in the Vietnam War. Just received my copy of Joseph Bruchac‘s latest, THE DARK POND (Harper, 2004).